Making Demo Tapes: : Finding Compromise with the Unions

The rules governing the making of tapes in rehearsals or live performances were formed for the protection of professional musicians. However, the rigidity of these rules denies or seriously hinders the professional and artistic development of some artists. TNYON would like to start a dialogue regarding these issues. Below are our comments and suggestions.

The following requirements should be changed:

• Holding employers responsible for misuse of recordings. Employers are unlikely to consent to a recording when they are responsible for fees and penalties should one person ever use it inappropriately.

• Forbidding the use of tapes for marketing purposes. Singers depend on tapes to pique interest in live auditions.

• Requiring a two-week notice of intent to record even a rehearsal. Schedules often change at the last minute. Singers get sick and can’t perform. Or they may simply not be up to par on a given day.

• Require the soloist to give the orchestra a silent ballot. Rehearsal time is often seriously restricted. It’s unlikely that companies would willingly allow this use of such valuable time.

• Requiring any type of permission process for the use of small, personal tape recorders in solo sections of a work in rehearsal. The quality of tapes made on such machines is too low to be of use in pirated recordings. The existence of such amateur tapes is unlikely to pose a threat to anyone’s livelihood.

We suggest the following compromises:

• Tapes should not include sections of music in which other singers are performing, without the written permission of the affected artists.

• Tapes should be used for marketing or personal uses only — never sold commercially.

• Tapes could be limited to a certain number of minutes, or include a gap or voice-over to assure non-commercial use.

• Tapes should not be traded by opera companies or conductor’s without the singer’s written permission.

• Without written permission from the affected artists, tapes sent out by singers could include only the name of the performer being marketed, and not the names of the orchestra or other singers.

We would like to invite further suggestion and discussion. Ideas and comments may be sent via email to or to AGMA directly at